A Complete 180
Tucker was a totally different horse at the show today. Laid back to a fault.
He was mellow, quiet, completely calm and relaxed. Normally, at a show he is a ticking bomb and I have to be really careful how I ride him. Not today.
Trouble is, you do need a bit of impulsion and energy to ride a truly successful test. So my scores weren't great. I did have two downward transistions--canter to trot-- in each test that were not good and my canter and trot lengthenings left a lot to be desired--exactly as I had expected since I haven't worked on them.
Aside from being too relaxed, he was obedient and well behaved. We did get a really strange score in the first test. A zero for a leg yield. Now, I have been riding dressage for a long time I and I really do know when my horse does a leg yield and when he doesn't. Tucker was leading with his forehand, but I decided not to correct the angle but there was a definite lateral movement going on--not the best but NOT a zero!! It was costly as that movement is a double score worth 20 points. In the other test, I had 6 & 7 for the leg yields. I guess when I saw my first judge looking down at some papers and not at me, I was right. She didn't see the movement.
Anyhow, I knew the canter lacked impulsion because I couldn't get it up in front, but that will come back once I get the energy again. I had a 50% in the first test, the one with the zero in it and a 58% in the second test. My combined score of 54% put me in fifth place out of, I think 6, for the championship. This was a bit disappointing in some ways as I know we are capable of far better, but considering that I wasn't even going to go to the show a week ago, it is a major accomplishment.
They pinned the championship in the main ring. We all had pictures taken in front of a floral and banner display which--to my surprise--Tucker just kind of quietly glanced at and then posed beautifully for his photo op. Then we all rode a victory lap around the arena. Once more, he was a star and moved into a nice quiet, lovely canter with his ribbon on his bridle. Placed fifth by default or not, I was quite proud of him in the lap of honor and just enjoyed it all.
So, is the Ulcergard working? If this show is any indication, it has made a dramatic difference.
Mind you, at one point, I went back to the trailer to get Tucker and he was gone! Apparently, I had left the back bar not totally fastened and he had gotten out and gone for a graze. A woman caught him and took him down to the holding area between the main rings and had the announcer call out that a "Bay horse has been found." When I finally got there, he was just kind of hanging out with the woman and she was gushing about what a "sweet horse" he was. She said she kept hoping--joking of course--that no one would come to claim him so she could take him home.
Tucker? Quiet? Standing like a lamb? Being totally sweet? My Tucker?
This Ulcergard thing may be the real deal.
Oh yes. My friend Stacie was there to see my second test. She commented that it was the first time she has ever seen him go without swishing his tail. I hadn't thought about it myself, but I don't think he swished even once in any kind of annoyance. The only little "incident" we had was when I put my spurs on in hopes of encouraging him some more forward and he really resented them. I took them back off and rode without. Since I was a championship, I could not use the whip, which might have been a real asset.
So, is it the Ulcergard?
Stay tuned. The next lesson might tell us more.